As I mentioned on my About page, a lot of what I will be writing will be some sort of thoughts and contemplation about music, books, or films. That being said, this post is simply for a bit of fun. In this attempt to merge my love for writing and books, and my love for music, here is a list of a few musicians or bands that have named themselves after great works of Literature. Some of these you may know, but maybe not. With that, here are six bands who give a significant shout out to their favorite books or writers:
Moby: This artist is a man of many talents. Although most know him as a musician and DJ– he also utilizes his creativity through writing, photography and advocating for animal rights. Moby would likely be most referenced in appearance by his casual dress, bald head, beard and black, thick-framed hipster glasses. As far as his music goes, the musician made his debut in 1992 with his self-titled album and has since released numerous well-known pop. ambient, electronic dance songs. The most familiar of which are arguably from his album Play. The album features hit singles such as “Porcelain” and “Natural Blues”. Moby also recently partnered with Steve Cutts in making a video for “Are You Lost In The World Like Me” which exhibits a profound message and artistic genius.
You may have already been aware that the artist’s name “Moby” is not the name he was given from birth. He was born “Richard Melville Hall” named for his famous ancestor, Herman Melville. He was given the nickname “Moby” as a reference to the classic novel “Moby Dick” which was written by his great-great-great-grand uncle, for whom he was named.
Sixpence None The Richer: This alternative Christian rock band is probably best known for their hit single “Kiss Me”–a tribute to french filmmaker Francois Truffault’s romantic movie “Jules and Jim” and later went on to be appropriately featured in several film avenues as well. The song was popularized from the film She’s All That but was also featured on Dawson’s Creek, How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days, as well as the ending of the live BBC broadcast of Prince Edward’s Royal Wedding. Many pop music listeners also recognize the stylistic vocals of the band’s female lead singer Leigh Nash in the remakes of “There She Goes” performed originally by The La’s, along with “Don’t Dream It’s Over” originally performed by Crowded House. Both of Sixpence None the Richer’s versions made their radio debut in in late 90’s and early 2000’s.
According to interview on The Late Show with David Letterman, the band got it’s name from a story in C.S. Lewis’ book Mere Christianity. When the TV show host asked if it was a literary reference to Dickens, Nash shared the story from the book. In the story, a little boy asks his father for a sixpence to buy a him a gift. Because he gave his father the gift that he bought with his father’s money, the father was no richer because of it. Nash explained to the host and the audience:
“C.S. Lewis was comparing that to his belief that God has given him and us the gifts that we possess and that to serve him the way that we should, we should do it humbly – with a humble heart – realizing how we got the gifts in the first place.”
Modest Mouse– This American rock band, originating from Seattle, Washington is perhaps best known for their hit single “Float On” debuting in 2009 on the album Good News for People Who Love Bad News. single that pop music listeners might be familiar with is “Dashboard” from the album We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank. The catchy and somewhat vague band name actually comes from a passage in a short story written by Virginia Woolf. The story entitled “Mark on the Wall” was written by the modernist and her husband in 1917. The passage that the band snagged it’s name reads:
“I wish I could hit upon a pleasant track of thought, a track indirectly reflecting credit upon myself, for those are the pleasantest thoughts, and very frequent even in the minds of modest mouse-coloured people, who believe genuinely that they dislike to hear their own praises.”
The novelist became well-known for her stream of consciousness writing and novels. The most famous perhaps are Mrs. Dalloway, To The Lighthouse and A Room of One’s Own. Chances are, if you have studied a British Lit course in college, you have read one or more of these books. I for one, can certainly appreciate the bands acknowledgement to her work.
My Chemical Romance– This New Jersey rock band was a favorite of mine back in my high school emo days. The band debuted in 2001, right as I was experiencing the peak of my own teen angst, which made their music very relatable. If you were anything like me, you fell in love with the sensitive, damaged,eye-linered, bad-boy look of Gerard Way as he sang to the world, letting us all know, “I’m Not Okay”. The song for me served as a gateway, only to later explore every beautiful melody of the album Three Cheers for Sweet Revenge, and then branch out into other albums. In 2006 the band released their concept album, The Black Parade, with yet another hit song of a similar name: “Welcome To The Black Parade“. Their music is still a bit of a guilty pleasure for me. You better believe that if one of their songs comes on the radio, I will know every word by heart.
The band, in fact, got it’s name from a novel by Irvine Welsh. The youngest Way brother and the band’s bass guitarist was working at a Barnes and Noble and was apparently struck by the title: Ecstasy: Three Tales of Chemical Romance. They decided to simultaneously shorten the name and make it more personal by dropping the “Three Tales of” and adding “My” instead. If you know anything at all about the band’s music, it’s quite clever and fitting if I do say so!
As I lay Dying– Unless you’re into the Metalcore scene, you may not be familiar with this band. However, anyone familiar with William Faulkner’s 1930’s novel, will know right away where the band name originated. The novel As I Lay Dying, is a complex modernist tale of a family’s quest to bury their mother, told in the perspective of fifteen different narrators, in stream of conscious form.
Regardless of your familiarity with the band, you may have seen the headlines in Summer of 2013 when band member and vocalist, Tim Lambesis, was arrested for hiring a hitman to murder his wife. This news came as unthinkable to many fans, especially in light of the fact that the band has stated on numerous occasions that, while they are not signed to a Christian label, each of the band members are practicing Christians. The charges and trial process, sentencing Lambesis to six years in prison, unfortunately brought their music as a band to an end when remaining band members decided to move on with a new band, Wovenwar.
The Devil Wears Prada– As yet another Christian, Metalcore band, this band seems have their faith a bit more reflected in their lyrics and themes. This band, like As I Lay Dying, did not sign to a Christian label, but all band members report they are practicing Christians. The band of course has much less of a dark history as the one previously mentioned. Of course there are other similarities. This band’s name derived from a novel written by Lauren Weisberger, by the same name. The chic-lit novel, The Devil Wears Prada, is about a young aspiring writer who works as an assistant to the editor of a fashion magazine. Her boss proves to be a cold, beast of a woman, drawing connections to the book’s title. Although the novel spent six months on the New York Times best selling list, most are probably more familiar with the film released in 2006. The parallels between the characters of the novel, its title, as well as the band’s name, serve with numerous implications of greed, temptation and other evils.
Well, that’s it folks! Do you have any other bands that you know of that are named after books, or writers, or some other artistic reference? I’d love to hear about them! Comment below or email me!